Sunday, 2 December 2018


It's that time when angels fly over Regent Street, shop windows twinkle with lights, girls buy glittery dresses and bookshops take on a mood of anticipation... not just of reindeers on the roof but of long, dark nights curling up with a story.

First off for me is always South Kensington Books... a treasure trove of the unexpected, often mirroring and expanding on exhibitions going on in the V&A. What draws me to them is their ability to allow a single book to monopolise their entire window. Last year, I remember Emily Gravett's TIDY with piles of leaves and gardening gloves and dustpans, and more recently a display showing every single spread of ANIMALPHABET by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Sharon King-Chai.

For Christmas this year, here is this charming window and a view of what was on offer inside the shop. 

Just further along in Chelsea, Daunt Books in the Fulham Road had a crowded window where I spotted a copy of my own and Jesse Hodgson's TIGER WALK... but sadly no jungle or single book takeover. Does it help to be next to David Walliams?

Further down the road I met up with the highly energised Yuval Zommer putting a light and fantastic touch to the NOËL window of Nomad Books with his bugs, beasties, birds and butterflies and probably the most enchanting ladybird I will ever see. 

At the Conran shop, they don't do book windows but inside amidst the Christmas offerings, I found a heap of wonderful Tiny Owl Books including CINDERELLA of the NILE by Beverley Naidoo illustrated by Marjan Vafaeian.

Just round the corner from Victoria Station, I spotted Mark Hearld's world in the form of foxes, rabbits, robins and owls in the window of Shepherds... not a bookshop I know but a wondrous paper shop... with Mark's amazing fold-out cards like individual minature picture books and of course he illustrated Nicola Davies' A FIRST BOOK OF NATURE - from beachcombing to stargazing and watching squirrels, ducks and worms and much else.

I didn't get to Waterstones or Hatchards in Piccadilly as the tube stations and queues on the Piccadilly line yesterday were horrendous because of Winter Wonderland. But here is the Alligator's Mouth snowy Christmas window in Richmond. 

Here you will spy GRANDPA CHRISTMAS by Michael Morpurgo and EMILY BROWN AND FATHER CHRISTMAS by Cressida Cowell, illustrated by Neil Layton who will both be appearing at Nomad Books TODAY 2nd Dec at 3pm.

Also the marvellous TALES FROM THE INNER CITY by Shaun Tan with that haunting cover and the wonderfully surreal illustrations of twenty-five short stories, exploring the relationship between humans and animals and how we are entwined for better or worse. Amazing is all one can say!

And a quick cheat... as its from last year's Picked Pepper window with Jane Ray's painting of Venice from our THE GLASSMAKER'S DAUGHTER. 

So some bookish baubles to wish you a happy time through Advent.  Please add your own favourite bookshops this Christmas in the comments. And don't forget to light your first Advent candle today.
Twitter: @dihofmeyr
Instagram: diannehofmeyr
latest book: TIGER WALK illustrated by Jesse Hodgson, published by Otter-Barry Books


Natasha Mostert said...

Wonderful post! Favourite bookshops:
MAISON ASSOULINE - the most beautiful bookshop in all of London;
HATCHARDS in Piccadilly - it still has an old-fashioned vibe and feels the way a bookshop is supposed to feel and besides, it was Oscar Wilde's favourite and I won't argue with the great man;
JOHN SANDOE in Chelsea - a lovely, independent hide-out for books;
JARNDYCE with its dark green panelling – a shrine to all things Dickensian;
WATKINS BOOKS – a treasure chest of writing on esoterica, occult and pagan wisdom. It was as I was browsing its shelves ELEVEN years ago, that I decided to write my book SEASON OF THE WITCH

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Fascinating list there Natasha. And yes Maison Assouline is fabulous and reeks of a lifestyle far beyond the means of the average children's writer! I should've popped down to John Sandoe because their windows (and shop) are always crammed full of exciting reads.

rose gomez said...
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catdownunder said...

Sigh...that was a lovely tour. We have a wonderful local indie bookshop - but it is just one! I love bookshops!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

I always love it when you comment from 'down under' because it connects me to my own southern hemisphere childhood... oceans apart I know but the same sort of spirit!

Sue Purkiss said...

Wonderful post, Di, as ever. A cabinet of delights.